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Apps and the Environment

4 min read

The environmental revolution is among us. This year we saw the banning of microbeads, plastic straw gate and the rise of vegans. The app industry would do well to capitalise on this market and make it easier for the consumer to be environmentally active. Here we highlight some of the top environmentally active apps currently available, all of which are free to use and supported by both apple and android.

Ecosia

One and a half acres of forest are cut down every second, due to logging for resources, infrastructure expansion and agricultural expansion. This has massive environmental impacts including biodiversity loss and driving climate change. Enter Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees; 34 million to date.

Partnered with Bing, Ecosia uses search ads as an income generator. The money generated by user ad-clicks, first pays their overheads (Ecosia financial report) and then at least 80% of the surplus income is used to fund reforestation projects all over the world. They have planted 1 million trees by 2014 and have set a target of planting 1 billion trees by 2020. The search engine is now available as an app with a sleek looking, easy to use interface and available as a search bar widget on android phones. The app’s home page features a live tree count and an Ecosia news section, keeping you updated with the organisation.

OLIO

Agriculture is the biggest contributing factor to climate change, as we chop down forests and exude greenhouse gasses to try and feed the overpopulated planet. To make matters worse, approximately 1/3 of food produced in the world gets lost or wasted.

OLIO is great answer to food waste, allowing you to exchange food with neighbours, local shops and cafes that would normally be thrown in the trash. Whether you’re going to go on holiday and the food would otherwise be left to rot or the shop only sold packs of 2 avocados and you only want one, OLIO allows you to offer the surplus food to people living nearby. You simply take a picture of the food, add a brief description and set a place and time for pick up. It’s a great way of avoiding waste food and to pick up some free ingredients. The app is being used worldwide, with currently 500,000 users.

Vinted

It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton shirt, annually 11 million tons of clothes are tossed in the trash by Americans alone, and it can take shoes 1000 years to decompose (Planet Aid). Vinted helps alleviate this environmental impact, by offering a service to buy and sell second hand clothing. Saving the environment, whilst also giving you some pocket money.

In 2008, Milda Mitkute and Justas Janauskas made a prototype site for Lithuanian women to trade their clothes. The business expanded and in 2012 they partnered with Lemon Labs, a Lithuanian-based app development company, to launch their mobile app. It is now one of the top second-hand clothing apps, with over 20 million members and growing by 15 thousand each day. The app allows sellers to easily post their product by providing a photo and description. As a buyer you can browse the site of a range of clothing and customise what you want to see in your feed. You then have 3 different fees to pay; the price of the garment which goes to seller, the postage, and service fee that goes to Vinted (roughly 3–8% of sale price).

There are many other apps out there that are exploring environmental awareness, from smart housing to CO₂ tracking apps. As the consumer is becoming more environmental conscious the market for environmental based apps is growing, and hopefully their quality along with it.

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